Know Before You Go: Zika Virus
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes, from mother to child, through sexual contact, and throug blood transfusion. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. While the symptoms for the illness are usually mild and last several days to a week, there is currently no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Hospitalization for the disease is uncommon.
Zika virus has been linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. The CDC issued special travel precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, recommending that they avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating.
If you are concerned about a risk of exposure to Zika related to upcoming travel, contact a specialist in travel medicine. Pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant, should consult their OB/GYN. Students planning to travel outside of the continental United States should regularly review travel notices for updates.
Travelers can limit their exposure to Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, travelers to Zika-affected countries should practice abstinence or safe sex (using condoms correctly and consistently) while traveling and for a minimum of 30 days after returning from a Zika-affected country.
This is an ongoing health alert; information will be updated following guidance from the Tarrant County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
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